Superman flew into my studio today. He was about 3 years old and very impressed with his muscles.
I have 12 days to finish two pieces for The Portrait Society of America’s Annual International Competition. I looked at all last year’s winners; very traditional, very well done, and very intimidating. Tom pointed out that there were 14 images of women and only 4 of men. “Perhaps your odds are better if you paint women,” he said.
I never paid much attention to my odds. If I had, I’d likely have chosen a different career. I want to paint superman. His name is Liam. He loves milk and apples. He’s my favorite wee man in the whole world.
I headed to the studio this morning, excited, but hesitant, as I’ve had a few rough days this week. I wish painting was like riding a bike. One day I think “Yippee, I’ve got it!” only to follow it with mud on over-sided lips set on a pea-sized head with crooked eyeballs? I thought I had gotten close to saving it a few times, but when ‘superman’ – now 11– walked into the studio and lovingly delivered a scalding critique, I wiped it out and decided to move on to the pressing matter at hand.
My canvases were prepared. I had cut, stretched, gessoed, and tinted them already. They were calling me, a sweet alluring song. They were big. I have not done ‘big’ since I switched to oils. Big is way more expensive now.
I sketched him out. Keeping it simple I tried to catch his expression. His sweet face began to develop, and I felt myself loosen up. I felt myself…smile. Step back, move in, step back, look up. There he was, staring down at his muscle. I remembered, and I laughed – out loud. God, I love that little bugger. Imitating his stance and expression, I made another mark, and laughed again at his sweet fat lip perched out over his double chin, synched by his red cape; a little man with big plans… a superhero in the making…my small boy that is rapidly growing into a young man. He still makes me smile, and he still checks out his muscles.
What depth this little dude has added to my life. If I can capture just a smidge of his exuberance, the jury should, at the very least, get a good laugh. And I will forever have my superman.